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Dollar Therapy 

OSD Has a Plan to Buy Back JSF Time, If Needed

August 7, 2009—The Office of the Secretary of Defense is closely watching the progress of the F-35 stealth fighter program and is reserving the option of making additional funding adjustments should the F-35 joint estimating team, along with other Pentagon overseers, determine that the aircraft’s development is faltering, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.

Already OSD has pumped extra billions into the program as part of Defense Secretary’s Robert Gates’ drive to solidify the F-35 as the tactical fighter of the future and bolster the aircraft’s test phase to avoid delays. Morrell said “the JET is in the process of doing more evaluations.”

Its initial look last year predicted a two-year slip, something that the F-35 program office has disputed.

Morrell said the JET’s new findings are expected soon. “If it is that they anticipate delays still, we have the ability to fund even more money to the test phase to buy back time and avoid delays essentially,” he said, reiterating that Gates has placed “enormous priority” on the success of the F-35 and will be “very, very much on top of that program as it goes forward.”

(Morrell transcript)

(For more, read F-35 Ready for Prime Time as well as Burning Down the Risk.)